A Daughter's Struggle With Learning To Read

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Ida Cortez with her mother, Kim Wargo, at StoryCorps in San Francisco. i

Ida Cortez with her mother, Kim Wargo, at StoryCorps in San Francisco. StoryCorps hide caption

toggle caption StoryCorps
Ida Cortez with her mother, Kim Wargo, at StoryCorps in San Francisco.

Ida Cortez with her mother, Kim Wargo, at StoryCorps in San Francisco.


Ten-year-old Ida Cortez had trouble learning to read and spell.

Her parents began to realize that something was off when she was in kindergarten. After talking with Ida's teachers, they figured out that Ida had some sort of learning issue because she was advanced verbally, but struggled with reading.

Ida was officially diagnosed with dyslexia in the first grade, when she was 6 years old.

"I wish people knew that it's not like an illness of the brain, it's a difference of the brain," Ida tells her mom, Kim Wargo, at StoryCorps in San Francisco. "Every brain is a little bit different, maybe ours is just a little bit more."

Ida tells her mom that she hated every second of learning how to read, but that her mom inspired her and helped her to learn.

"When you were helping me read, did you ever for a moment think that I wouldn't be able to?" Ida asks her mom.

"I never believed that you wouldn't learn how to read," Wargo says. "But I got frustrated at first. I was like, 'There's the word, you just said it, why can't you read it again?' I didn't understand what was going on because I knew you were so smart."

Wargo says that once she realized that Ida had dyslexia, she was able to concentrate on ways to help her. Ida began working with a learning specialist at her elementary school, as well as an occupational therapist. She worked with these specialists for about two years. By the third grade, she was reading above grade level — something she continues to do.

"But what I did worry about was whether you would love to read," Wargo says. "Because I love to read and Dad loves to read, and we wanted you to have that."

Ida says she does love reading — her favorite book is The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart. She's also a huge Harry Potter fan.

When she grows up, Ida says, she wants to become a humanities teacher. "And I want to help people who are dyslexic do like spelling and reading and stuff because those are the things that were really hard for me."

Asked what she has learned about herself that she might not have discovered if she weren't dyslexic, Ida had this to say:

"That I can work hard; I can have to do something and do it. It's not easy. It's not easy for anyone, but I can do it.

Produced for Morning Edition by Katie Simon. The senior producer for StoryCorps is Michael Garofalo.



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